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6 Great Nonfiction Books
And welcome Katrina!
It’s the last month of 2021. It’s hard to believe, right? It’s been a year.
After the conclusion of our Phonics Myth Busters series, we decided to offer another post of book recommendations. This time, we’ve curated some nonfiction texts that we hope you’ll enjoy. We LOVE nonfiction read alouds and mentor texts.
We’re also happy to announce that one of our BFFs (can we still use that term at this age?), Katrina Davino, will be joining us as an author of Still Learning. Welcome, Katrina!
Always still learning (about new great books),
Katrina, Lizzie, and Marie
Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World by Kazoo Magazine (Author), Erin Bried (Editor)
This book is the coolest! It’s a collection of informational comics. Each section teaches about a woman from history who was a noisemaker, including marine biologist Eugenie Clark, ship designer Raye Montague, and ballerina Maria Tallchief. All of the comics were created by a different woman or nonbinary cartoonist, so you’ll notice different styles and text structures across the book. We pull out this book when we want to help kids learn about the people throughout history who are connected to the things they’re interested in, or when we want to inspire kids to speak up and make change in their own worlds. You’ll return to it over and over again!
In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel (Author), Hatem Aly (Illustrator)
This beautiful picture book follows a young Muslim boy through his experience visiting his mosque for Friday prayers. The illustrations are rich and inclusive—seriously, even the endpapers of this book are stunning—and the text is joyful and affirming for Muslim readers. It’s also informative for children who might know less about mosques or Muslim culture, especially the “All About Mosques” and glossary spread at the end of the book. The language is lyrical, too (“grandfathers nimbly thumb their tasbihs”, “aunties’ hijabs sway like a sea of flowers”), making this a gorgeous text to read aloud.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Author), Oge Mora (Illustrator)
If you’re looking for a biography to add to your collection, this is a great one, especially if you already love Oge Mora’s artwork like we do. The Oldest Student tells the story of Mary Walker, a formerly enslaved person who learned to read at the age of 116(!). It’s a beautiful example of the power of literacy, and a reminder that you’re never too old to learn new things.
Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler (Author) and Loren Long (Illustrator)
This is a really beautiful book, especially if you are studying communities. “All across this great big world, jobs are getting done by many hands in many lands. It takes much more than ONE.” We could imagine going on a community walk after reading this book, noticing and thinking about all of the care and contributions that go in to making our world. The picture book reminds Lizzie a bit of a the musical Working (she was in it twice!) based on Stud Terkel’s book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Read more about the book on Brainpickings. There’s a song in the musical (“See That Building”) based off of these words from an interview with a steel mill laborer:
It’s not just the work. Somebody built the pyramids. Somebody’s going to build something. Pyramids, Empire State Building — these things just don’t happen. There’s hard work behind it. I would like to see a building, say, the Empire State, I would like to see on one side of it a foot-wide strip from top to bottom with the name of every bricklayer, the name of every electrician, with all the names. So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, ‘See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.’ Picasso can point to a painting… A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to.
(P.S. Thanks for letting me digress into the musical theatre world! -Lizzie)
I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun (Author and Illustrator) and Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith
This is a gorgeous book about the Seoul subway based on Hyo-eun’s observations during her rides on the subway. The Publishers Weekly review says, “in this quiet treasure of a tale, every person in the crowd has a story, a family they love, and dreams they cherish.” While this could be a great read aloud (especially in NYC!), we could also see it used in a poetry unit to inspire poems. It could also live in a text set with Last Stop on Market Street and Milo Imagines the World—both by Matt de la Peña (Author) and Christian Robinson (Illustrator) .
Hello, Dinosaurs! By Sam Boughton (Author and Illustrator)
This is a series of board books. These would make amazing information mentor texts in grades 1 and 2. They have flaps, speech bubbles and lots of little text around the page. We also think the series makes a great, durable, addition to a classroom library that kids will love to read.